By Doula Jen
I myself felt a little nervous-curious before my first LLL meeting, nearly a decade ago. I didn’t know what to expect.
I wasn’t really having any breastfeeding problems. I was merely new in town and looking for a like-minded mothering community. My daughter had just turned one and I wanted to explore the idea of extended breastfeeding and subsequent weaning. This was new territory and I wondered what choices other nursing moms were making and how they were putting them into practice.
Practically, I received advice on nursing through pregnancy (hello baby brother), tandem nursing and weaning. As my breastfeeding relationship with my son progressed, I found that my milk velocity increased with an intensity that it hadn’t when my daughter was young (perhaps because I had just finished nursing a toddler). The LLL leaders and members gave me tips on pre-feed expression and reclined breastfeeding.
All of this was — of course — extremely helpful, but it wasn’t information that I couldn’t find in a book or even online. The real benefits of LLL meetings went much deeper:
Everyone was breastfeeding!
Seriously…everyone! I could nurse without covering up, hiding out or worrying about polarization. As a doula, I constantly advocate for peer community — diaper bags, tired eyes, etc. This, for a nursing mother, takes it to the next level. To nurse freely while eating snacks and drinking tea with other mamas? It made breastfeeding “out” a relaxing and enjoyable experience — a mindset I was able to take to other public locations with practice.
Triumphs, conflicts and challenges were met with respect and understanding. Baby steps were applauded. No matter where a woman was in her breastfeeding journey, she was encouraged.
In time, I began offering advice and teaching new mamas my favorite breastfeeding hold. I became the shoulder to cry on, the cheerleader, the peer support. It was extremely empowering to come full circle: new mama to breastfeeding expert — an experience that strengthened my own mama instincts and probably helped pave today to my eventual work as a postpartum doula.
Check out La Leche League of Minnesota and the Dakotas to find a group near you.